Urinary tract infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria are on the increase among wheelers. A primary cause is the indiscriminate use of antibiotics, which results in vulnerability to resistant infections not just in the bladder but throughout the body. Not surprisingly, people with neurogenic bladders due to spinal cord injury, stroke or multiple sclerosis are at greater risk for antibiotic-resistant infections than the general population.

What is indiscriminate use? According to urologist William Blank, of the State University of New York Health Science Center in Brooklyn, it takes three main forms–using antibiotics when you’re not sure you really have a significant UTI, using antibiotics that don’t target the specific bacteria you have, and not taking the full course of antibiotics prescribed.

Fact: If you catheterize, you will always have bacteria in your urine. Resistant bacteria can form if you use an antibiotic again and again with bacteria present in the urine but no physical signs of infection, if you use antibiotics repeatedly to treat full-blown infections, or if you stop taking prescribed antibiotics before all the targeted bacteria are killed. In all three cases, some of the bacteria can survive, reproduce and eventually become a completely resistant strain.

The first step in avoiding resistant infections is to get back to bladder basics. Remember them? Keep your hands and catheter clean, drink plenty of water and empty your bl